Saturday, October 13, 2012

Never Ask How Much.

Unless you already know.
There will never be a Dominican version of The Price is Right because they all know how much everything is. That's just no fun. I've never heard a Dominican ask how much something is, unless its a rare good like the Taekwondo shoes Max's teacher brought back from the States on a recent trip. The baffling thing about those shoes is, nobody ever asks what size they are. Wouldn't you want to know that first? I digress.
Anything you'll find in the supermarket, colmado or side of the road? They already know how much it all costs.
It's happened more than once that I come home, pleased with a purchase only to be deflated shortly thereafter.
"Josh! Look at these mangoes," I'll beam, holding them in the air.
"Those are huge! How much did you pay for them?"
"Ummm... 20 pesos a piece," I say, realizing I have no idea how much they're supposed to be.
"Oh. You know that's double what they're supposed to be, right?"
They always see me comin'. Or it could be that I ask out right, tipping them off to my complete ignorance. I've tried handing them a largish bill, then waiting for change. The thing is, I don't know if they give me correct change--which can be tricky because its not uncommon to be terrible at simple math here. Yes, even if you own your own fruit stand.
So, to educate myself and give others like me an idea of what is a fair, just price 'round these parts, I sat down with my neighbor and asked. These are the prices that this shrewd Dominican, Don Ramon, pays. Don Ramon scolds me every time I pay more than I am supposed to. When we break down and go to a big grocery store, we sneak the bags into the house so he won't see that we very likely got ripped off in some way or another. He's all about the deals and I don't think he understands the hurdle that is my complete handicap: my face. I give myself away every time. Apparently my face says, "I'm not from here. Please ask ridiculous prices for any goods I may express interest in and I will happily pay while smiling at you like you're a fair and honest person." I know, my face can say a lot. And, I might add, has a pretty good vocabulary too.
The list of items that we regularly purchase (in pesos, per piece, unless otherwise noted), according to the American equivalent of a couponer:
Mango - 10
Avocado - 10

Chayota -10
Pineapple -20
Bananas - 3-5
Plantains - 8
Garlic -8

Papaya -15
Rice -18 per/lb
Beans -25 per/lb
Flour -22 per/lb
Sugar -18 per/lb

Pepper - 5
Loaf of Bread - 100 (don't worry, it's all crappy bread)

And that's how Don Ramon rolls. And how much you've been ripped off. Or how pleased you can be with your economic shrewdness.

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